Aramaic and Chinese Traditional religion

The Kaddish and the Tao De Jing

In the Advanced section we present a sister language of Hebrew - Aramaic. Aramaic was used alongside Hebrew in traditional Jewish writings, in order to clarify or expand upon original Hebrew writings and prayers. The majority of roots in Aramaic words, are the same as, or similar, to the roots in Hebrew words. While Hebrew was more unique in that it was the national language of the Jewish people and religion, Aramaic was more "international" in nature, and spread throughout the Middle East, to include Israel.

We have already seen some features from the uniquely Chinese religions of Confucianism, Daoism, and Chinese folk religion, mentioned in the texts in the previous section. In the advanced section we will now read the oldest and most influential text of traditional Chinese religion, the Dao De Jing, and later examine some Aramaic religious traditions which entered into China and came into contact with Chinese religion.

The Aramaic text here is the Kaddish, the third most important prayer in Judaism after the Shma and Amidah. It is also the most commonly said prayer in the Siddur, being repeated numerous times during daily prayers, in four variations. In the Aramaic text below, many of the words are actually Hebrew words, and almost all of the other words have the same roots as in Hebrew. There are also seven roots which are unique to Aramaic (not found in Hebrew). These are marked in green. Even two of these roots, reuta and mar, have similar Hebrew roots. At one time, Aramaic was considered a more commonly understood language than Hebrew, so a few important prayers were written in Aramaic, for those who could not understand Hebrew.

Up until now, we have been learning the three traditional Chinese texts always learned first by Chinese children. Now that these three traditional texts have been mastered, the learner will see that the world of traditional Chinese is open to them. The Dao De Jing is the most well-known Chinese text outside of China, and has been translated more often than any other Chinese text; there are hundreds of translations of it into English. But anyone who has mastered the texts we have learned in the Intermediate section, can now read the Dao De Jing in the original traditional Chinese.


PDF of the Kaddish Shalem (Pronunciation and English translation.)

Audio (mp3) of the Kaddish Shalem

Traditional Chinese

PDF for learning the Dao De Jing

Audio (mp3) of the Dao De Jing

Some main words and proper names in the Kaddish: